New Study Suggests Link Between Light Drinking, Lower Risk for Dementia

14 Feb, 2023 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL ( – Twenty-two percent of physicians surveyed indicated they used alcohol as a coping mechanism for burnout. Recent reports indicate the number of occupational fatalities from nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol across all jobs increased from 57.7 percent in 2020 to 58.1 percent in 2021. 

While alcohol use has increased, often with detrimental results, the results of a new study suggests that having one or two cocktails a day may actually protect against developing dementia. 

Korean researchers analyzed patient data from the Korean National Health Insurance Service database belonging to nearly four million patients aged 40 years and older who had underwent 2 health exams between 2009 and 2011. Patients completed surveys on their drinking habits, and based on responses were classified into one of five categories. The categories included nondrinkers, quitters, reducers, those who maintained their level of consumption, and those that increased their consumption. 

Alcohol consumption levels were categorized as none at 0 grams per day, mild at less than 15 grams per day, moderate at 15-29.9 grams per day, and heavy at equal to or greater than 30 grams per day. As a comparison, the average alcoholic drink in the US contacts around 14 grams of alcohol. Based on that, the mild category would be 1 drink per day. 

The participants were also screened for cases of dementia from all causes, Alzheimer disease, and vascular dementia.

At the first examination, 54.8 percent of the patients were nondrinkers, 26.7 percent were mild drinkers, 11.0 percent were moderate drinkers, and 7.5 percent were classified as heavy drinkers. From 2009 to 2011, the researchers saw somewhat of a decrease in drinking levels as 24.2 percent of the mild drinkers, 8.4 percent of moderate drinkers, and 7.6 percent of heavy drinkers became quitters. However, there was also an increase as 13.9  percent of non-drinkers, 16.1 percent of mild drinkers, and 17.4 percent of moderate drinkers increased their levels of alcohol consumption. 

The sustained nondrinker category had the oldest average age, and the highest percentage of females. Those in the quitter category tended to be older, female, more engaged in regular exercise, and have lower incomes. 

After an average follow up of 6.3 years, 2.0 percent were diagnosed with Alzheimer disease, 2.5 percent were diagnosed with dementia, and .3 percent were diagnosed with vascular dementia. Overall, the researchers found that the sustained mild drinkers had a 21 percent decreased risk of dementia, and sustained moderate drinkers had a 17 percent decreased risk of dementia as compared to non-drinkers. Sustained heavy drinkers had an 8 percent increased risk for dementia. 

Additionally, the researchers found that reducing alcohol consumption from heavy to moderate levels were associated with an 8 percent decreased risk of dementia, and a 12 percent decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease.

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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